Meet the Member Noah Jones
story by Ruth Nicolaus It’s all his brother’s fault, that Noah Jones is the Idaho Cowboys Association saddle bronc riding director. But he doesn’t mind. […]
story by Ruth Nicolaus
Leo Baptiste realizes he has to “adult” and can’t just team rope forever.
But that’s ok with the Hawaiian-born Idaho resident.
Growing up on the Big Island, he’s been riding since age three and began competing at age seven. Like many other Hawaii rodeo cowboys, he came to the contiguous U.S. for college, graduating from the University of Idaho in 2005 with a major in physical education and minors in health education and recreation leadership.
He had team roped in college, winning the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Northwest Region twice and the runner-up title once and qualifying for the College National Finals three years.
After graduation, he held several different positions in the public school system: as a special education teacher, case manager, chair of the special education department, and after obtaining two master’s degrees, as a school principal in Dufur, Oregon for five years.
Leo and his family, which includes wife Jessica (they married in 2006), and daughters Hadley and Dally, moved back to Idaho, south of Weiser, two and a half years ago.
Leo has competed in the Idaho Cowboys Association off and on since his college days. During his high school summers, he came to Idaho and lived with Bob and Bette Scarbrough, his godparents. Bob, a team roper, took Leo with him to jackpots and team ropings and “helped me out a bunch,” Leo said. “He’s a great guy.” While in Oregon, Leo wasn’t an ICA member, but now that he’s back to Idaho, he plans on doing more ICA rodeos.
Leo always had a summertime job during his school career days, either riding outside horses or selling supplements. A year and a half ago, a summer endeavor morphed into a full time job. He quit the education field and is now the distributor for Sweet Pro and EquiPride for the Northwest. It was a bit stressful to make the jump from a guaranteed paycheck to owning his own business, but “it’s been good, in light of” the pandemic.
As a former school teacher and principal, he sees similarities between those areas to rodeo and life in general.
“Mental toughness is a mindset,” he said. “When you face defeat or a tough situation, it doesn’t dictate who you are. It shows you what you need to work on to get better. You can’t let those things define you as a person.”
School, physical education classes, rodeo, and life itself provide situations that aren’t always fun or easy, he said. As kids learn or as adults meet new circumstances, they might face thoughts like, “this is hard, I don’t like this, and this is uncomfortable,” he said. “Such is life. When things are uncomfortable, you learn how to get the job done.”
Before he had a family and a job to fill his schedule, he competed at USTRC events and other team roping events. He and Jessica’s daughters, ages eleven and nine, are growing up, and he hopes to devote more time to roping in the future.
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